Saturday 21 June 2014

Ebook Errors…

Rant Alert! Ebooks. Does anyone actually proof read them or test them on the devices they will be read on before they are published? Doesn’t seem like it to me.

I read a lot. Print books, usually, but I take an ereader when I’m holidaying or travelling around. At the moment I’m doing a re-read of Robin Hobb’s early works and my old print copies are so well-read and delicate now that I’m reading digital copies on my Kindle.

I read a lot of proofs so I am well tuned to expect errors in those – misspelt names, typos, repeated words, formatting and line space issues – which I happily ignore, confident they will be rectified before the final book is published. I even sometimes spot errors in published books – it happens, and again I try to ignore it and accept that mistakes can slip through the net. Look at the first edition hard copies of The Republic of Thieves and you will soon start to hate the word ‘storeys’

But in reading Hobb’s books on the Kindle I’ve come across so many errors it is starting to really annoy me, and I’m fairly confident these errors are not in the print books and have solely come about as a result of the digital book process.

Character names have occasional spaces in them as though a spellchecker has tried to make two words out of them – Wintrow becomes Wint row. Several apostrophes have been replaced with random symbols – @ & – which I presume has happened when the text has been converted/formatted for digital reading. Sometimes the wrong word entirely appears in a sentence – ‘do’ instead of ‘to’ – or an ‘n’ appears where there clearly should be an ‘r’ followed by another letter.

If all of these errors are so glaringly obvious to me, the reader, why on earth have they not been rectified? Do ebooks really get no other treatment than to take the existing text as is, run it through a converter and then wham bam publish ma’am? No tests? No checks? No final proofread following conversion? Are people really content to be putting what comes across as sloppy, mediocre work out into the world?

Maybe I’m being a little harsh. We all make mistakes. But shouldn’t mistakes be occasional and genuine rather than frequent and lazy? Please, for the sake of story-lovers everywhere, to allow the very best of your work to get out there and show yourself in the best possible light, proofread, and test your ebooks with the same beady eyed diligence you would use for print.

Elloise Hopkins.


  1. Some of the worst ebooks I've seen are in the SF Gateway series. I bought a dozen or so of them before realising what a state they were in - scanning mistakes on every page in some cases. If they were cheap it wouldn't have mattered that much, but SF Gateway charge a fair bit for their ebooks.

    You can mark content errors up on the Kindle, and Amazon will apparently withdraw the book and ask the publisher to fix it. But that always feels to me like offering free proofreading services to publishers who should really be paying someone to do it before they put the books out.

    1. Yes, that's exactly it. So frustrating.

  2. I THINK mine's OK, but it took a while to change the formatting to single spacing, and it still hasn't updated on my own kindle. All the same, it did remove a space in the first para without asking...

    1. But the difference is you are conscious of the errors that have or may make it through and you did the right thing by asking people to look over it and let you know if they spotted anything. You've not just sent it out there and given no consideration to proofing.

  3. Vook can publish your ebook through our account with you or your company Short for Mobipocket ebook conversion format, and is used on the Amazon Kindle device.